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Osceola County considering a major increase to its already high impact fees

Osceola County considering a major increase to its already high impact fees
The proposed park impact fee ordinance would raise fees 150-percent for single family homes. It also would divide the county into three districts: East (pink), West (green) and St. Cloud JPA (yellow). (Osceola County)

Osceola County is considering a nearly $1,400 per home Park Impact Fee increase in March to what is already the highest combined impact fees in Florida.

Last year the county virtually doubled its mobility fees across the board, while school impact fees also jumped -- particularly for new apartment developments. The park impact fees haven't changed since 2006.

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The Board of County Commissioners have scheduled an impact fee workshop for March 4 to discuss the proposal, which would raise the park impact fees to $2,305 for single family home and $1,118 per unit for a multifamily developments. That's a 150-percent increase for single family homes and 64-percent increase for apartments.

Commissioners could vote as early as March 18 on a new ordinance that would codify the new park impact fees, effective July 1. It would be the next stage of the Parks Master Plan that was adopted last year that projects up to $167 million in future parks spending over the next 20 years.

Osceola County is recommending a 150-percent increase in park impact fees for new single family homes, to $2,305, the highest in the region.
Osceola County is recommending a 150-percent increase in park impact fees for new single family homes, to $2,305, the highest in the region. (Osceola County)

Assistant Community Development Administrator Susan Caswell told GrowthSpotter the Parks Master Plan looked at needs and facilities in a different way.

"We tried to look at facilities needs for specific geographical areas," she said, noting that without additional funding, the county wouldn't be able to keep up with the projected population growth.

"We have sports fields galore on the east side of the county, but the west side still needs them," she said. Dog parks and splash pads are also in high demand.

The new ordinance would reduce the number of park impact fee districts from five to three, with the main dividing line being the Florida's Turnpike. The St. Cloud Joint Planning District would comprise the third district.

Osceola doesn't collect impact fees for regional parks -- the county already has plenty of conservation land -- or for neighborhood parks, which are built by developers. The impact fees go to pay for community parks, ballfields and recreation centers.

This chart shows how Oscoela County's park impact fee compares with other jurisdictions. Under the proposed ordinance, they would increase to $1,118 -- higher than Orange County.
This chart shows how Oscoela County's park impact fee compares with other jurisdictions. Under the proposed ordinance, they would increase to $1,118 -- higher than Orange County. (Osceola County)

But for the development community, it's another hit to the budget, and it's compounded by the new requirement that they pay park impact fees when they pull building permits rather than at the certificate of occupancy stage. Those are costs that must be carried throughout the construction period.

Caswell said the numbers in the draft ordinance are a staff recommendation, but commissioners could approve a more moderate increase. If they adopt the ordinance, the combined impact fees for single family home would jump to $23,225 and $19,046 for each apartment unit.

"Everybody here understands the issue with the fees being so high, which is why the commissioners set money aside in the budget to pay mobility fees for affordable housing for the last two years," she said.

Raleigh Steinhaugher, government affairs director for the Greater Orlando Builders Association and Apartment Association of Greater Orlando, said the high impact fees have chased business out of the county.

"One of the things we hear from the county is they want affordable multi-family housing, and then they keep increase the impact fees," Steinhaugher said. "I've heard from a number of multifamily developers who have told me flat out that the impact fees are making it impossible to develop in Osceola County."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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